the jesus and mary chain
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Overcome All
Taylor Parkes / NME

Christmas in LA: LA of slime, LA of trees and death, throws on a Santa hat. The skies are blues, the palm trees barely swaying, and every radio station in town is playing "Take It Easy" by the Eagles. And the shop displays boast robins and snow. Ho ho ho.

The Mary Chain are hugely hip here. Which means the LA music industry is out in force. Seems LA's popscene is as sprawling, incestuous and unloveable as its opposite number in London. Considering the fact that these are possibly the world's premier loner bands, the crowd looks awfully peculiar: spotty, great-coated indie dweebs flanked by ranks of leggy lovelies. Oh right, yeah, he does marketing at Capital, I see. No one is standing on their own. Just a bunch of people hanging around, waiting for the end.

So Mazzy Star must face off a curtain of chatter, a low, scrambled buzz running under and over the songs that threatens to reduce these sonnets of dark love to...chamber music. Which is obscene, since Mazzy Star are crushingly good tonight.

Still sounding like a sharpened moon above cemeteries, midnight walks in haunted country. The aimless whirling of sabres, and tears that look like sharks. For our younger readers, Mazzy Star play a slow, moody kind of music that sounds a bit like The Velvet Underground.

And the Jesus And Mary Chain. In a hotel bar some time ago, William Reid was banging a hand down on a smoked glass table and insisting that the Mary Chain's reputation for stagnation is a dirty lie. "We've always fucking changed," he grunted from behind attractive sunglasses. "We've never made two albums that sounded the same!"

Which is true - and it isn't. If the Mary Chain have progressed since the frozen Niagaras of "Psychocandy", it's been nothing to do with reinvention, or even hunger. Instead, what's fascinating is the way they've pulled five chords through 10 years without changing a thing, allowing natural processes of erosion and evolution to happen all around them.

Tonight, they pull five chords through 90 minutes, which leave us no option but to freeze beneath the bulldozers, be happily flattenend.

"Sometimes Always" - one of the singles of the year, whatever those nigglingly-hip, notebook-checking bastards say (yeah, it seems a bit odd that the Mary Chain are unhip in the year of Oasis: like, swaggering T Rex riffs and a surly pose are just old hat now, eh?) - melts horribly in the heat, but seven sackloads of unsmiling gems remains. I enjoyed the band.

Mmm, it was an evening of classicism - that which I most despise, true - but, still, in the right place, (and, to a lesser extent, at the right time), a single six-string chord can cut through theory like a three-bar fire through icicles.

This deep blue rock is handsome.

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